NICOLLET, Joseph N. (1786-1843, also called Jean N.) - EMORY, William Hemsley (1811-1887). Report Intended to Illustrate a Map of the Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River. 28th Congress, 2nd Session. January 11th, 1845..

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NICOLLET, Joseph N. (1786-1843, also called Jean N.) - EMORY, William Hemsley (1811-1887).
Report Intended to Illustrate a Map of the Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River. 28th Congress, 2nd Session. January 11th, 1845..
Washington, D.C.: Blair and Rives, 1845. First edition. House Issue.

8vo., (8 3/4" x 5 3/4"). Fine large engraved folding map of the Hydrological Basin of the Upper Mississippi by Emory after Nicollet (title-page top outer corner renewed). Modern half red calf gilt.

"THE EARLIEST ACCURATE MAP OF THE EASTERN SEABOARD OF THE CENTRAL PLAINS" (Ehrenberg).

Nicollet, a French-born scientist and would-be astronomer, arrived in New Orleans in 1832 and soon became intimate with the wealthy Chouteau family, who were preeminent in controlling the fur trade of the Mississippi Valley, with operations extending northward into the Illinois country. They persuaded him to join them in expeditions they were sending into the St. Louis region. Nicollet embarked on the first of these explorations in 1836, searching for the source of the Mississippi River. In this quest he came into contact with the Chippewa Indians and reported his findings on their language, customs, religious practices, relations with other tribes, and attitudes toward American settlers to U.S. Army officers stationed at Fort Snelling, at the juncture of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, the site of present-day Minneapolis. Nicollet impressed his new American friends in the U.S. Army. As a result of their recommendations Secretary of War Joel Poinsett invited him to Washington, D.C., and gave him various assignments. One of these in 1838 was a commission to conduct a survey of the upper Missouri country, accompanied by Lieutenant John C. Fremont. In the following year he continued the survey by steamboat and also explored the sources of the Red River and the North Dakota country. When he returned to Washington, D.C., in 1840, he prepared some of the first accurate maps of the region northwest of the Mississippi River. In these projects he worked closely with the eminent Swiss emigre Ferdinand Hassler, chief of the U.S. Coast Survey...The significance of Nicollet's life in the United States was as an explorer and mapmaker. A scientist of note, he was one of the illustrious circle of talented, adventurous, and highly skilled men who gathered around Hassler. That group developed the first accurate scientific data about the still- unknown regions of the Mississippi Valley. In his brief career as a pioneer explorer he contributed much to westward expansion in the nineteenth century and to more accurate knowledge of the Native Americans in that area" (Gerald D. Nash for ADNB). Nicollet's celebrated "Map of the Hydrographic Basin of the Upper Mississippi River," reduced by Emory and first published separately in 1842, was "based on some 90,000 instrument readings and 326 distinctly determined astronomical points. With its overall regional concept of a 'hydrographic basin', Nicollet's map and the accompanying report were years ahead of their time. Had he lived one more decade, Nicollet would undoubtedly have become the official government cartographer of the whole trans-Mississippi West" (Goetzmann, Exploration and Empire, 1993, p. 313).

Buck 339; Graff 3022; Howes N 152; Schwartz & Ehrenberg (Plate 165), pp. 265-68; Sabin 55257; Streeter 111:1808; Wagner-Camp-Becker 98; Wheat, Transmississippi West Il, p. 180.
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